NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman won’t be traveling to Russia to negotiate Brittney Griner’s release.
Rodman changed his mind on Monday after State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told ABC News if Rodman traveled to Russia, “he would not be traveling on behalf of the U.S. government.”
“We believe that anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder those release efforts,” Price told the outlet.
He’s also advising against any Americans traveling to the European country because of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
Rodman originally told NBC News on Sunday he would travel to Russia this week to negotiate Griner’s release from prison.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” Rodman said. “I’m trying to go this week.”
Griner was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison on Aug. 4 for drug possession. She was allegedly carrying cannabis in vape containers while at a Moscow airport in February. Her lawyers filed an appeal on Aug. 15, but the details of the appeal remain unclear.
Rodman has assumed the role of an unofficial diplomatic ally on behalf of the U.S. in recent years. Rodman and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un became friends after the controversial figure held a basketball exhibition in Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2013. Since then, Rodman has traveled back and forth, attempting to ease tensions between North Korea and the U.S., specifically with the release of Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae.
Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor by a North Korean court in 2013 for allegedly conspiring to overtake the country’s government. He was freed after Rodman sparked conversation with Kim against Bae’s detainment.
“I’m calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him “Kim,” to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose,” Rodman said on Twitter in 2013.
Later that year, Rodman told Fox Business that Russian president Vladimir Putin was a “cool guy” after a visit to Moscow on a basketball trip.
Rodman has had numerous run-ins with the law over the years, including him being charged with simple battery after slapping a man at a bar in 2019.
There is currently discussion of a prisoner swap that would bring Griner and former U.S. marine Paul Whelan back to the U.S., according the Associated Press.